Team Abu Dhabi’s Rashed Al Qemzi faces one of the most important tests of his relatively short career when he heads to Campione d’Italia to defend a 12-point lead in the UIM F2 World Championship at this weekend’s Grand Prix of Switzerland.
The rookie Emirati has been a revelation in this year’s F2 series and a victory at the opening round in Lithuania in June was followed by third position in Norway last month.
Those results have given the Abu Dhabi International Marine Sports Club (ADIMSC) driver a total of 32 championship points with two races remaining.
Al Qemzi faces formidable opposition with a small armada of Scandinavian drivers challenging hard for honours on Lake Lugano.
The Emirati’s closest championship rival is experienced Swede Pierre Lundin on 20 points, while Frenchman Nelson Morin and Sweden’s Johan Osterberg and Ola Pettersson are both well placed to challenge.
Another Swede, Erik Edin, won the recent European Championship title at Kupiskis in Lithuania, but he trails Al Qemzi by 27 points with 40 still at stake over the two remaining races.
Heavy rain curtailed qualifying and practice at this race last year and drivers faced a hectic final day’s action, which saw Al Qemzi and teammate Mohammed Al Mehairbi finish sixth and 14th respectively on their Campione d’Italia debuts.
Al Mehairbi drives the second Team Abu Dhabi boat this weekend. Al Qemzi’s recent third place in Norway proves his Lithuanian win was no flash in the pan and the team’s general manager, Salem Al Remeithi, is confident Al Qemzi can extend his 2017 series lead.
“This is a vital Grand Prix to decide the outcome of the title race,” said Al Remeithi.
“Rashed is ready, focused and determined and we know that a podium finish would be a massive step towards a first ever F2 title for Team Abu Dhabi.”
After technical checks and scrutineering on Friday, the action gets underway with free practice from 10.25 on Saturday. The three qualifying sessions take centre stage from 14.30 with qualifying or a repocharge race at 17.20.
The race itself fires into life at 16.35 UAE time on Sunday.